Trying to find the hotel with the best pool at Walt Disney World? This post ranks the 10 best resort pools, along with tips for families, pool photos, and other assorted ramblings. For a lot of families, the hotel pool is really important. We have lost track of the number of times parents have told us that the hotel pool was the highlight of the vacation for their kids, and they remember that moreso than the parks!
This doesn’t really come as a surprise–there’s one family vacation to Walt Disney World that I recall mostly for swimming in the pool at Shades of Green, playing Daytona USA and Twilight Zone pinball in the nearby arcade, and having dinosaur nuggets at the restaurant. It’s funny (well, maybe not for my parents since these are things I could’ve done at home for a lot less money?) what memories really stick for kids.
After being called out by readers for our Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village Review, which said, “I can’t say the pool here is anything special” we decided to give resort pools some serious thought. For some reason, we haven’t devoted any coverage to hotel pools (outside of our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews) here on the blog at all. Given their potential significance in vacation planning, this post is long overdue.
Given that, let’s not waste any time, and dig right into the top 10 pools at the hotels of Walt Disney World…
9. Dig Site Pools – The Lost City of Cibola Pool (and adjacent “Dig Site” areas) at Coronado Springs makes the list because of its range. For kids, there’s the 123-foot water slide, Mayan temple ruins, arcade, play area, and 50-foot tall pyramid. For adults, there’s the large Siesta’s bar, volleyball court, and largest hot tub at Walt Disney World (capacity for 22 people). I don’t really think there’s a single “wow” element to all of this, which hurts its rank, but Dig Site is a very solid, well-rounded pool area.
8. Doubloon Lagoon – While Doubloon Lagoon at Port Orleans French Quarter doesn’t hold a candle to Typhoon Lagoon, it does have a band of musically-inclined alligators, and a 51-foot long slide themed as a SerpentDragonSnake. That’s right: a giant half serpent, half dragon, and half snake creature known to scour the depths of the waters, leaving no one alive. (The danger is super cereal and no one will listen to me!) Fortunately, while Disney’s scale model of the SerpentDragonSnake is strikingly realistic, he poses no threat to tourists. He, along with the alligators give the pool a fun vibe, which is what “makes” this pool for us. That, plus a nice location, the kiddie pool, whirlpool spa, and the Mardi Grogs pool bar push it slightly ahead of Dig Site–although that’s debatable, and might be due to my bias towards SerpentDragonSnake.
7. Big Blue Pool – I’ll say it: this is the most overrated pool at Walt Disney World. Art of Animation Resort‘s Feature Pool is often touted for its size (the largest at any Walt Disney World resort hotel), the underwater music, and its fun Finding Nemo decor. I have to give it credit for all of these things, which is why it makes this list. However, with the size comes an underwhelming, bland design and huge crowds. Underwater music is nice…but who is really listening to music underwater? I’ll admit: the Schoolyard Sprayground and Squirt’s Righteous Reef are both nice play areas, but overall, Big Blue Pool just doesn’t rank among the elite pools at Walt Disney World. Maybe I’m just a fun-hating curmudgeon, but I actually prefer the Cars pool, thanks to its quieter vibe and cool Cozy Cone cabanas.
6. Silver Creek Springs – The main pool at Wilderness Lodge is probably not one I would’ve considered for this high of a spot originally, had I not taken a step back and considered the ambiance of the entire pool area. Despite its location, it feels secluded in plain view, and has a lot to offer in terms of a relaxed ambiance. The pool is “fed” by a natural spring in the lobby of the hotel, which trickles outside of the hotel and into the pool, which is surrounded by pine trees and boulders with views of the hotel’s geyser and Bay Lake in the distance. Pretty cool theme, right?On top of that, there’s a 67-foot waterslide built into the rocks, hot and cold whirlpool spas, and a new water play area for kids.
5. Samawati Springs Pool – If this #5 ranking isn’t proof that I can admit when I’m wrong, I don’t know what it is. After giving this more thought and doing a comparison to what other pools offer, Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village has a pool area that measures up to the best of them–albeit not for me, personally. The big highlight here is Uwanja Camp, a water playground with 3 zones that include water guns, climbing crates, games, geysers, and a ton of other stuff. Then there’s the 128-foot water slide, and large pool, all among secluded foliage. Granted, the pool itself is less than half the size of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s pool, which is probably the better option for adults (it doesn’t make this list in the interest of avoiding redundancy), but Kidani Village’s pool is great for families.
4. Beach Pool – The pools at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa have seen some substantial changes in the last couple of years that, overall, I’d say are for the better. The Courtyard Pool added zero entry among other enhancements, which have pulled a lot of crowds towards it, and made things quieter are the Beach Pool (which I think technically is Grand Floridian’s “Feature Pool”). Beach Pool is a large and serene natural springs-themed setting, with a 111,261-gallon pool overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon, 181-foot-long waterslide, waterfalls, walking bridge, poolside bar, and zero-depth beach entry. There’s also an Alice in Wonderland water play area adjacent to the pool, providing balance for kids to what is otherwise an adult pool area.
3. Fuentes del Morro Pool – I don’t care how old you are, if you claim that you don’t like pretending to be a pirate, you are lying to yourself and your whole life is a sham. The pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort scores serious points for its Spanish colonial fortress style, complete with cannons. For me, this feels like an extension of the first scene of Pirates of the Caribbean (attraction), and I can only imagine being a child again and coming back to this after riding the Magic Kingdom attraction for the first time. Add to this the nice Shipwreck Play Area, and two water slides, and you have an area that’s great for kids. For the adults, there’s a pool bar plus two somewhat secluded hot tubs. All of this plus close proximity to the Old Port Royal Food Court makes this pool a great option for a “rest day” during a Walt Disney World vacation.
2. Lava Pool – During Polynesian Village Resort‘s recent overhaul, this went from being the Nanea Volcano Pool to the Lava Pool. With this, the volcano pool slide structure was rebuilt, and now resembles more lava ruins than it does an active volcano. In terms of substance, the pool is very similar to Beach Pool at Grand Floridian. You’ve got a wonderful Kiki Tiki’s Splash Play Area, walking bridge, waterfalls, and 142-foot water slide. There are also great views into the Seven Seas Lagoon, a nice poolside bar, and a semi-secluded hot tub. Ultimately, Lava Pool ranks higher than Beach Pool because of what it accomplishes thematically, which feels richer than Beach Pool, and offers a little slice of paradise for both kids and adults.
1. StormAlong Bay – Was there ever any question about which pool would rank #1? In the world of Disney pools, there’s Storm-Along Bay, and there’s everything else. Shared by Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, this sprawling pool complex 3 acres in size with sand at the bottom and a lazy river is in a league of its own. It also has an excellent 230-foot ‘shipwrecked’ water slide, ample lounging space, a surplus of bridges and areas to explore, and an excellent poolside bar. If the pool is what matters most to you, and you have the budget, Yacht & Beach Club Resorts should be your top pick for resorts. This pool offers something for everyone, and the sand at the bottom is the kind of odd thing that will stick in your kids’ memories. While StormAlong Bay does not rival Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, it’ll do if you don’t want to dedicate a day to one of those parks.
Alright, that’s our list. While we have spent time lounging at every Walt Disney World resort pool, it’s probably worth noting that (like anything) this is subjective and based in large part upon our personal preferences. Some solid pools were snubbed. There’s also the issue of non-Disney pools, some of which are excellent. It’s always tough to categorize Swan & Dolphin since it’s a quasi-Disney hotel, but we usually exclude it from lists like this. Its pool would easily make this list, as would a few other on-property or nearby non-Disney hotels (Hilton Bonnet Creek, Buena Vista Palace, and Hyatt Grand Cypress, just to name a few).
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Since this is a subjective matter, we’d love to hear your favorite–and least favorite–pools! Are we wrong about Big Blue Pool being overrated? Have any of your family members fallen prey to SerpentDragonSnake? Do you yearn to feel the sand between your toes in StormAlong Bay? Share your pool rankings, other questions, and questions in the comments below!